Category Archives: Béziers

French “livret de famille” and Double Nationality


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After what seems like months of sending papers and documents back and forth to the French Consulate in Chicago, we finally received our new “livret de famille” via Express Mail yesterday!!  We also received French birth certificates for our two little ones, and now it’s time for a celebration because they are now officially both FRENCH and AMERICAN!!  This is progress.  Time to order the French passports.

Now I just have to work on French nationality for myself…. I really should get started.  All of this should really be helpful once we get to France.

French Consulate in Chicago

On another note, we had a showing of our house on Saturday, and another one tonight (everyone cross your fingers for us that these will be the people who fall in love with our house and put down a contract right away).

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Top Ten Reasons to Live in France


My TOP TEN reasons for wanting to relocate to France:

(maybe I forgot something, or maybe you know better!  in any case, let me know what you think!)

 

Reason # 1

Quality of life


Reason # 2

Work to live, not live to work.  Taking time to enjoy life, spending time with family, longer lunches and dinners.  Slower pace of living.  Sundays are what they used to be in the United States forty years ago.

Reason # 3

Healthier lifestyle, pedestrian friendly cities, beaches, mountains, walks in vineyards.

Reason # 4

High-quality health care system, affordable to all, low cost prescription drugs.

Reason # 5

French gastronomy, locally grown fresh produce markets, bread, cheese, olive oil, Mediterranean diet.

Reason # 6

Easy travel to diverse locations (other European countries); children grow up (with the possibility of)  being exposed to more foreign cultures.  And no matter where you live in France, Paris is just a quick train ride away.

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” -Ernest Hemingway

Reason # 7 

Some of the best, and most affordable wine regions in the world.  Summer wine festivals in the Languedoc are fabulous.

Reason # 8 

Mediterranean climate:  The weather may not be so fantastic in every part of France year round, but in the Languedoc, it really is quite pleasant most of the time.

Reason # 9

Manners are still important in France, and the vast majority of children are raised to show respect.  This is very important to me.

This is a picture of my son, my niece, and some friends.

Reason # 10

Comparatively low violent crime rate.  We are not planning to live in a big city, but even in Paris I feel safe walking alone at night.

What we’re going to put in our 20-foot container


Our house still hasn’t sold.  42 days or so on the market and two weeks since we’ve had a showing, but I’m still curiously optimistic.  I don’t know how I’ll deal psychologically if this doesn’t work out.  Let’s just not think about that 🙂

Here’s what our container will look like.

 

Doesn’t look that big, but we’ve been assured that everything we have left in our house should fit in there:

Dining room

Kitchen

Living Room

Three bedrooms

Clothes/Shoes for 2 adults & 2 children

Toys, bikes, etc.

We did get rid of a LOT at our moving sale back in February so when moving time does come, NO CLUTTER.

While getting rid of things, we didn’t keep anything electronic that we thought we could do without.  That includes mostly all kitchen appliances, one television, some lamps.  Now that I think about it, I shouldn’t have gotten rid of so many things.  However, at the time we didn’t know we’d have enough space in the container.  Oh well, no regrets!

Originally, we’d planned to sell or give away the electrical appliances we still have just before moving.  That would include a television, PS3, Wii, DVD player, hair dryer, flat-iron, iron for clothes, a couple of lamps, coffee maker, espresso machine, rice cooker, and a few other little things that we consider important.  Now that I think about it and I’ve done a bit of research (and I know we have enough space in the container), I do believe I’ll just go and buy enough $10 electrical adapter/converter devices and hold onto our appliances.  That will save us a lot of running around buying things when we get to our apartment in Béziers, and it will be cheaper too.

A word about keeping the television.  The only reason we will do this is to play video games and watch DVDs on it.  It happens to be a nicer, newer T.V., so maybe we’d like to have the little luxury of having it, even if we won’t watch real television programs or French DVDs.  We will need a larger size converter for this.  Suggestions?

We’re not going to bring the car, though.  I love my VW Beetle, but it’s just not worth what it would cost to ship it over.  Plus, I’m pretty sure we’d have to have some changes made to the car once in France just to make it street legal.

What do you think?  Any comments?  Many of you probably have a lot more experience shipping personal goods overseas, so I’d be thrilled to receive any advice you may have.

Steps we’ve been taking to get ready to move to France ASAP


Step 1

The first thing we had to do back in the fall of ’11 was to really decide once and for all that this is what we want to do, and that this is the best decision for our family.  My husband and I have just hit the big 4-0, and we have two small children, as well as one who is now 21.  We lived in Béziers, France back in 98-99, right after getting married.  When we came back to St. Louis, it was mainly to allow me to finish my Master’s in French.  At the time, it seemed like it would be so easy to pick up and go back whenever we felt like it.  13 years later…….  In a perfect world, we will move back to the south of France this summer (2012).

Step 2

Time to tell the family about our big move.  My husband is French, and his whole family lives in France.  Telling them was a piece of cake, and they were thrilled!  My whole family is in Louisiana.  To them, St. Louis is already too far away.  This proved to be a bit more difficult, but six months later, Mom & Dad gave us their support (whew!).

Step 3

Tell the family, but not the kids just yet.  It was really hard keeping such a big secret, but for job security it was necessary.  We finally decided to tell the kids (they were ecstatic), and of course the news spread like wildfire.  Lots and lots of questions were aimed in our direction, and we still don’t have all of the answers.

Step 4

Right after Christmas, we decided it was time to get busy!  Spring was on the way, and we had a house to get ready to put on the market.  It took one solid month to go through every single item in the house while getting ready for the moving sale of the century (not really).  We had our sale in mid-February, and we sold everything we do not plan to bring to France, with just a few exceptions.  We’ll still need a 20′ container, though.

Step 5

With the moving sale accomplished, it was time to get the house ready to put on the market.  With the help of an awesome real estate agent, we found out exactly what we needed to do to make this house sell.  Without going into all of the details, I can tell you that it was the hardest job we have ever embarked upon.  Ever.  Working day and night, we got the house market-ready in 6-7 weeks.

Step 6

Two open houses, about 10 showings, one contract that fell through, two home inspections…. lots of stress.  Still playing the waiting game.  Had to lower the price on our house today in hopes of getting some more showings.

Step 7

Lots of administrative things to do.  Working on finalizing French nationality for the children (and for me), enrolling the kids in school both in France and in St. Louis (just in case), reserving a 20′ container for the move, making lists of what to do when the time comes to move.  It’s pretty difficult, because most of what we need to do cannot actually be done until our house sells and we’re certain of the move.

Step 8

This is not really “step 8”, it’s been a constant since we decided to move:  Looking for work in France.  We’re fortunate in that my husband is French, so it will be easy for me to get a “carte de séjour” until my French nationality has been finalized.  Here in the US, I’m a French teacher.  I’m exploring many avenues to make money while in France, all the while keeping my schedule free enough to accomodate a school schedule that’s less than friendly to mothers who work full-time.

I’m sure I’ve skipped out on many of the details, and I may need to further edit this post, but I wanted to get it out there.  This whole year, I’ve scoured the Internet for people like us, making the big move.  It’s hard to find information, so if you have questions for someone who’s going through the transition right now, feel free to ask me questions 🙂

Traveling to France with small children? Pas de problème!


It’s almost scary how much I’ve heard (or overheard) people saying that they’re not going to travel this summer. Why? It’s not because of the economy or because they’re afraid of terrorist attacks.  They aren’t going to travel because their kids are too small.  While I haven’t given advice where advice is not requested, I did think about it a good bit. We’ve always traveled with our kids, and though the flight to France or 12 hour drive to Louisiana may not be the MOST fun we’ve ever had, the reward has been enjoying our summer travels to places near and far even if we do have little ones.  In this post I’m going to focus on traveling with kids in France.  We all know that France is the world’s #1 tourist destination, but what usually comes to mind are the museums, fine restaurants, wine tours, etc.  In a nutshell… We think of grown-up stuff. When traveling in France with little kids, you may be amazed at how much there is for them to do.  It’s just that before you have kids you don’t pay as much attention to what’s going on for the younger set.  I’ve been digging around in my pictures looking for shots of our kids having a blast in France.  Sometimes you’ll see we’re in Paris, other times in the south.

www.bateaux-mouches.fr
Having fun on the Seine

You can go directly to their website @ www.bateauxmouches.fr for pricing and schedules.  The ride doesn’t last too long, and if you choose to go on the cruise on a day when it’s nice out you can sit outside on the deck as we were in this picture.  The cruise along the Seine gives you really nice views of practically all of the important monuments in Paris.  In the summer, you have to wait until it’s pretty late if you want to see the monuments illuminated… which might be a challenge if you have really small kids with you. Here’s my baby having so much fun on the carousel in the Champs de Mars park, Eiffel Tower.  I wish I could remember how old this carousel is.  Let’s just say it’s VERY old and old-fashioned.  What I mean is, there’s a guy who stands in the middle and hand cranks the thing so it will turn!  Only in Paris!  There’s so much fun stuff to do in the Champs de Mars.  You’ve got this great park with swings, jungle gyms, this carousel, a sand box.  There’s also, on the other side of the park, an area where the kids can ride donkeys, ride in little go-carts, watch a Marionnette show.  Here are some pics from the Champs de Mars:

By the way, these swings go REALLLLLY high!   So much fun, but make sure you strap ’em in real good!  They also have swings like these in the Jardin du Luxembourg, which is over in the Latin Quarter.  Another really neat place for people of all ages.  Here are some pictures taken over there:

Guignol! 

There are plenty of marionnette theaters all over Paris, but for some reason I really like this one in the Jardin du Luxembourg. So much fun. The old man comes out with his bell in hand and starts ringing it when it’s puppet show time. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t speak French (but of course, it helps if you do!) because the show will entertain both your kids AND you regardless. There’s probably no better way to have a truly Parisian experience, right along with REAL French parents and their kids, than at the marionnettes.

This is one of the most beloved activities of our kids at the Jardin du Luxembourg.  You rent one of these little sailboats, especially fun on a moderately windy day, and you play to your heart’s content.  There’s just a small fee, but you’re good for a solid hour of seeing your sailboat fly across the basin and running to catch up with it.  If you go on a day with no wind… you may have to wait awhile for your boat to get to the other side but it’s still so much fun.

Who knew there were so many donkeys in Paris?  As at the Champs de Mars, your little one can take a donkey ride at the Jardin du Luxembourg.

What kid doesn’t like trains?  In France, a great option with the little ones is to board the fastest train in the world (on rails) and head down for le Midi (the south) where you’re sure to have nice, warm weather and you’ll meet some of the sweetest, most kid loving people on the planet!

When most people think of the south of France, they think of “The Riviera”… La Côte d’Azur.   Yes, it’s quite lovely!  BUT if you’re on a budget and want to really get to know the south of France, where there are  more French people and less tourists, head on over to the Languedoc region.  It’s just as beautiful, it’s less crowded, and it’s cheaper!

You’ll be hard pressed in Paris to find an outdoor swimming pool where you can relax, but in the South, finding a pool is no problem!
Dans les vignesNow here’s something just as much fun for Maman et Papa as for the kids.  Go and take a walk through the vineyards.  They’re everywhere, literally.  Along the way, maybe you’ll run into a little “dégustation de vin”… WINE TASTING!!  Did you know that the Languedoc produces the largest quantity of table wine in France??  And if you’re on foot or if you have a bike, you don’t even have to worry about driving!  Yeah… Watch out if you’ve been to a dégustation and then have to drive while you’re in France.  They’ll stop you and you’ll get a DUI.  It’s gotten really strict.  Just don’t do it!

EscargotOur kids love to gather up as many escargot as possible, get them a little wet, then have races to see which one is fastest!

Cigale

La cigale, the so-called symbol of the South of France.  You’ll find them depicted everywhere, on tableclothes, in ceramic form, just everywhere.  If you’re really lucky you’ll find one coming out of it’s shell, just being born.  It’s a real privilege!

"Bullfight"... Provençal style!

Bullfighting is really big in the south of France in the summertime, but it’s not exactly something you want to go see with your kids…..a liitle too much blood.  In Provence, you can go with your kids to see a provençal style “bullfight” where the guys taunt the bull but nobody gets hurt.  You can see the guy jumping over the wall here in this picture.  It’s pretty exciting, no matter your age.

……..to be continued…….